The MindScope program at the Allen Institute seeks to understand the transformations, sometimes called computations, in coding and decoding that lead from photons to behavior and conscious experience by observing, perturbing and modeling the physical transformations of signals in the cortical-thalamic visual system within a few perception-action cycles. We generate data and discoveries through the Allen Brain Observatory, a standardized and high-throughput experimental platform that captures neurons and circuits in action in the visual regions of the mouse brain, to glean principles of how the mammalian brain processes information, responds to the external world, and drives behavior.
MindScope Program News
Allen Institute launches fellowship for data scientists to study the brain
March 8, 2021
The Shanahan Foundation Fellowship at the Interface of Data and Neuroscience, a 3-year fellowship program co-hosted by the Allen Institute and the University of Washington, is now accepting applications
Tiny high-tech probes reveal how information flows across the brain
January 21, 2021
In the largest study of its kind to date, scientists use ‘Neuropixels’ probes to capture details of how the mouse brain sees the world
These visual neurons don’t work the way scientists thought, study finds
December 16, 2019
Less than 10% of neurons in the mouse visual system behave the way scientists thought most such cells work to perceive the outside world. What the other 90% are doing is far from clear.
A shared observatory for neuroscience
OpenScope opens the Allen Brain Observatory pipeline to the entire community, enabling theoretical, computational and experimental scientists to tests hypothesis on brain function in a process analogous to astronomical observatories. Once a year, OpenScope will accept experimental proposals from external scientists, execute the experiment and make the data available for analysis and subsequent publications by the external team.
Eavesdropping on the brain’s internal dialogue
Created in collaboration with the Allen Institute, imec, HHMI Janelia Research Campus and University College London, Neuropixels are thin silicon probes that can record from neurons in many parts of the brain simultaneously. Our researchers are now using these probes in the Allen Brain Observatory to listen to more than a thousand neurons’ conversations at once. Neuropixels make it possible to read out electrical activity from as many as nine visual areas in the mouse brain as the animals view images and movies. Ultimately, the researchers aim to map in detail how different parts of the brain work together to process visual information and use it to guide actions.
Observing the brain in action
The Allen Brain Observatory takes a large-scale, standardized approach to studying neurons as they fire in a living animal. Researchers on the Observatory team are now able to watch — and ultimately to understand — how the mouse brain works in real time. Using mice that are genetically engineered so that different types of neurons glow when active, the research team measures the activity of individual cells in the mouse visual system as the animals observe different images and movies. Their ultimate goal? To understand the rules of computation that are used by brain cells and circuits to process visual information.